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The makers of blood thinner Pradaxa have agreed to pay a $650 million to settle U.S. lawsuits involving the drug.
The agreement, announced yesterday by German drug-maker Boehringer Ingelheim and reported by The New York Times comes after 4,000 lawsuits claiming the company failed to properly warn patients that the drug could lead to serious or fatal side effects were filed in state and federal courts.
The company continues to maintain that they've done nothing wrong. So why settle now?
In a press release posted on the company's website, Boehringer Ingelheim said the settlement was aimed at allowing the company to "avoid the distraction and uncertainty of lengthy litigation and focus on our mission."
Pradaxa was approved for use in the United States in 2010 and was touted as a replacement for warfarin, an anti-coagulant used to prevent blood clots that required patients to undergo numerous tests and restrict their diet. But Doctors began reporting that Pradaxa was leading to bleeding complications. As The New York Times reported in 2012, with no way to reverse the effects of the drug some patients were bleeding to death on hospital tables.
The drug has since been linked to more than 1,000 deaths in the United States. The first case against the company was set to go to trial in September, but the company hopes that most if not all of the plaintiffs will accept the settlement terms. In their statement, they say they will "vigorously defend" against those who do not.
According to The St. Louis Dispatch, the settlement will only go forward if 95% of the plaintiffs agree to participate. In a civil suit, settlements can typically be reached without judicial approval. But class action lawsuits, lawsuits involving minors, or lawsuits with special circumstances may require that any pre-trial settlement be approved by a judge.
An attorney for the plaintiffs told The Dispatch that 30-35% of the lump sum would go towards attorney's fees, with the rest being divided among the participating plaintiffs. This type of contingency fee arrangement -- where lawyers agree to take the case in exchange for a percentage of any judgment or settlement -- is typical in personal injury, negligence and other civil cases.
Pradaxa has been prescribed to over 850,000 patients in the U.S with sales of over $2 billion.
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